The Boston Celtics travel to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers in the second leg of a 5-game Western tour through the muscle of the conference. Boston played Utah last night and will face Portland, both LA teams and the red hot Phoenix Suns to round out the trip. Portland comes into tonight's game in 3rd place in their division and having lost 4 out of their last 5 games including a home blowout loss to the Spurs on Thursday. Game time is set for 10pm EST.
Go West, Young ManThe Boston Celtics headed to the west coast in second place in the Atlantic Division standings behind the Brooklyn Nets. It has been an up and down season for the Celtics as they adjust to a new coaching staff, injuries and some inner turmoil. The team, however, appears to be rounding into form. All Star Jaylen Brown is slowly making his way back from both the COVID virus and hamstring issues and fellow all star Jayson Tatum looks to be rounding into elite form. Tatum leads the team in scoring at over 24 points per game and has become a rebounding fiend as of late, including his 16 in a recent win over Philadelphia. Tatum also recorded 10 assists in a game earlier this week as he continues to fill the box score in many ways.
“Just trying to do everything I can to contribute to that,” Tatum said of the rebounds. “Rob (Williams II) gets mad at me sometimes because he feels like he boxes out and I come in and steal it, but it’s part of the game.”
Brown, Boston's other young star, has been slow to come back from the symptoms from COVID and from his sore hamstring. His production has been somewhat sporadic as has been his wind, due to the virus. Tatum, who overcame similar symptoms last season, has been a source of support for his teammate as he watches him battle through adversity.
“I know how tough it can be and how bad you want something and how it may not be going that way at that moment, and how frustrating it can be,” Tatum said. “But you still trying to find a way to win. We’re all human. We get down on ourselves sometimes and when you see that, tell him it’s gonna be alright. Still be him.”
Old friend Al Horford, re-acquired this off-season from OKC, has been outstanding in his return to Boston. He has provided the team with leadership, rebounding and interior defense. Against Philadelphia and star center Joel Embiid, the 35-year old Horford turned back the clock with a defensive performance usually reserved for players 10 years his junior. Horford held Embiid to just 3-for-17 shooting from the field.
"I was written off. I'm just glad I got another opportunity in a place I want to be," he said. "There's a lot of satisfaction being back here and playing at a high level."
Boston will need their stars, young and old, to step up to come out on top in this tough road trip.
Carrying their Road woes HomePortland, abysmal on the road so far at just 1-10, carried that same play home vs the Spurs on Thursday night. The shorthanded Blazers were trounced by the sub .500 Spurs 114-83 to snap a 10-game home winning streak. The loss also dropped the Blazers under .500 at 11-12 on the season as they begin life without star guard Damian Lillard for at least the next 10 days with an abdominal strain.
"My biggest concern, I think, at the moment, is I want us to compete harder, man. I want us to compete harder,'' first year head coach Chauncey Billups said. "I want us to be competitive in every game. And I don't feel like every night we do that. We don't. And it concerns me. And I've felt that way in a lot of our wins. This is not just after a loss, me saying this."
Billups, brought in to add some defensive intensity to the Blazers' game, had to be frustrated watching his team surrender 11 first half 3pt field goals to the Spurs. For the season, the Spurs have made the least amount of 3pt field goals in the NBA. Adding to the team's woes, Anfernee Simons who started in Lillard's place, left in the first quarter after rolling his right ankle and did not return. His status for the Celtics' game remains up in the air.
"We didn't have enough personal pride defensively in the game tonight," Billups said.
Norman Powell, who led Portland, along with CJ McCollum with 16 points, knows his team needs to find that pride soon:
"We're 23 games into the season, and we gotta start really digging deep and finding out who we're gonna be every single night."
Without their star guard for a decent stretch, and perhaps his replacement as well, Portland will have to ramp up their defensive intensity in order to weather the storm.
Chippin' away... pic.twitter.com/BPCPHffYVB— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 3, 2021
- Under is 6-1 in the Trail Blazers last 7 games playing on 1 days rest.
- The Trail Blazers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- The Trail Blazers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games playing on 1 days rest.
- Trends courtesy of covers.com
- The Celtics are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 0 days rest.
- The Celtics are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 road games.
- The Celtics are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Saturday games.
- Under is 7-0-1 in the Celtics last 8 road games.